Over the past week, HuffPost talked to about a dozen engineers, current and former executives in the medical device industry, and critical care physicians about how to make the most of the country’s existing ventilator stock and how to increase the supply as quickly as possible. Several asked that HuffPost not use their names because they still work in the industry.
None felt comfortable making firm pronouncements about what was possible. They cited the many unknowns, from the availability of electronic components to the severity and timing of the pandemic itself.
But they all said the federal government could make a big difference by making advance purchases, rushing the regulatory process, financing or even providing transportation, and making sure ventilators get to the places that need them most. Factories are already speeding up, they said, but there’s a chance to do even more.
“The industry has shifted into overtime to produce much-needed medical supplies, devices and equipment, such as ventilators,” Mark Van Sumeren, a device industry veteran who is managing director of the firm Health Industry Advisor, told HuffPost. “There’s a limit, however, to how much capacity it can ramp up on its own. Government can be a key partner here.”